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Carolyn Moncel

What Your Online Newsroom Says About Your Company


by Carolyn Moncel

Building a website with current information about your business is one of the most important things you can do in establishing your company's credibility with the media. More than ever, the company website has become the first place reporters turn for basic information about businesses. Having key facts about your company readily available at their fingertips becomes an important investment. This is not only true for large corporations but for small companies as well.


In fact Vocus Inc., the leading supplier of automated tools for PR professionals, recently completed an interesting survey on this subject. When interviewing 1,000 journalists, 86 percent of them revealed that a company's website is the first place they look in order to find information on a company. Three out of five reporters said that they will look at a website first in order to decide whether or not to make contact. Additionally, 90 percent of the journalists also said that they wasted valuable time combing through websites in search of information.


Those are important statistic because having an easily accessible online newsroom is not very hard to achieve and doesn't have to cost thousands of dollars to implement. The advantages to building an online newsroom that contains pertinent company information are clear: You not only help to make a journalist's job much easier, but in doing so, you may also significantly increase the chances of having your company included in that journalist's story.


If you need help developing your online newsroom, start by following some of these suggestions:


Design your online newsroom with the local as well as international press in mind: We live in a global business community so even the smallest company's website can play a major role in International PR. Your company may be located in the United States, but reporters from around the world may have an interest in your business. One of the simplest things you can do to give your site more impact is to spell out the dates in your releases (i.e., January 10, 2004 instead of 01-10-2004) so that they adhere to international global date formats. For many reporters around the world, the latter example above would be interpreted as October 1, 2004. Doing this could mean the difference between your website's content being seen as current or stale.


Properly label your news area: Give your news area a name easily recognizable to journalists. Examples of this could be "Newsroom" or "Press Center." Journalists tend to associate the term "Media Kit" with sales information and advertising rates, and therefore may choose not click on the link.


Make your online newsroom easily accessible: Your online newsroom should be no more than one click away from the homepage. Provide quick press contact information: Not only list the name of your press person, but also make all means of contact (office phone, cell phone, and pager numbers) within a 24-hour day available to them. Also provide a personal e-mail address (i.e., cathy_smith@acme.com) rather than a generic one (i.e, communications@acme.com.) Journalists on deadline will not take a chance on sending a message to a generic e-mail address because they figure they will not receive a timely response.


Include links to all relevant company information: Journalists should be able to access your company fact sheet, mission statement, statistics, background materials and executive bios. Making this information available on your site helps the reporter in building the foundation for his story.


List all company press releases in descending order: Give your visitors your freshest information first. In addition, when distributing your press release via wire services, be sure to upload a copy to your website immediately as well. Also, keep in mind that reporters may be accessing information from a variety of locations (home, office, remote locations) so make sure that the release is available in multiple formats (html and .pdf) for quick and easy downloading. If your company has distributed more than ten releases, then make sure that the releases are searchable by headline, type, date and year.


Present your company's news coverage and make it searchable: Let the reporters see what other media outlets have said about your company -- even if some of the stories are not friendly to your company. It shows that your company has third-party endorsements, lends credibility, and will help in developing more interest in your story.


Make multimedia files available and downloadable: These resources would include digital images (i.e., logos, corporate and product photos), as well as short audio and video clips. Make sure that digital images are available in multiple formats (JPEG, GIF, TIFF, and EPS). TIF and EPS are listed because print journalists will need the images delivered to them at a much higher resolution (at least 300 dpi) than the standard resolution found on the web (72 dpi). List the size of the multimedia files so that the reporter can gauge how long it will take to download. It's also a great idea to make audio and video clips available for use on a variety of different players (i.e., Real Audio or Windows Media Player), or at least indicate which player should be used.


Optimize your online newsroom for search engines: Journalists spend a great deal of time using the Internet to find or research stories. Optimize the keywords associated with your company and the industry in which it belongs so that journalists will be able to find your company during their search on Google.


If your company doesn't already have an online newsroom yet, then now is a great time to start developing one. In doing so you would be creating a one-stop shop for news releases, photos, and any other content deemed important by reporters to do his or her job more efficiently. You'd be ahead of the game, too, because if you ask most journalists what they think about most online newsrooms, they will tell you that most of them are horrible. Use this opportunity to build something that reporters will find useful and feel comfortable visiting again and again for solid information. As small-business owners, here is your chance to level the media playing field, and get the coverage that your company deserves. Having a great online newsroom can carry you along ways toward achieving your goals.


Notable Resources:


Carolyn Davenport-Moncel is president and founder of Mondavé Communications, a global marketing and communications firm based in Chicago and Paris, and a subsidiary of MotionTemps, LLC.
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Do you have a media relations question? Ask Carolyn! Your questions could be featured in an up-coming article. If you enjoy reading the Shoestring PR articles then sign up for our monthly articles via email or visit our Mondavé Communications blog - it's free!

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